Vacation planner: The best solutions

Vacation planner

Your company is growing, and with it your workforce. Where previously a joint agreement was sufficient, now real planning is needed. Who is on vacation, on training, in the home office, on a business trip, on parental leave, etc., and when? If you want to implement absence planning in your company, you will come across an almost endless number of Excel templates, elaborate software and fancy apps. Not every solution will be suitable for your company - in this article you'll learn how to make the right choice for your company.


Why you should plan absences as a human resources manager

Yes, absence planning is additional effort at first glance. But in growing companies, the effort caused by a lack of planning is also growing.

On the one hand, HR managers should naturally keep track of who can be expected at the workplace at all times in order to keep their own time demands low. Do employees come to you to ask how much vacation time they have left? Then ask yourself why they don't keep track of it themselves. Through good absence planning and communication, you can prevent such efforts.

In addition, there are the effects on the actual work: In complex work processes, colleagues and supervisors must be able to rely on everyone being ready to work as planned. It is completely irrelevant whether you work in civil engineering, gastronomy or in any other industry. Friction losses due to poorly planned processes rapidly reduce productivity in any field. Of course, absence planning is not yet duty or project planning, but it is an important pillar.

Pen & paper

Why not, right? Of course, if all of your employees and co-workers meet in the same place every day, you can do your absence planning very practically on a flipchart or magnetic board. It's simple and pragmatic, and you're probably using resources you already have available to you to do it.

But if your employees work in different places, or if your building is quite spread out, planning absences can be difficult. They say that every aisle makes you slim, but that's usually not enough motivation. As a result, absences are usually discussed directly within the team and the overview from the top is lost.

This solution is also at a disadvantage when it comes to one of the most common reasons for absence - illness - because those who are ill stay at home or even have to go to hospital. Who then updates the absence planning? That's right, you. And do your colleagues find out right away? Probably not. And that's to say nothing of the time and effort involved in electronic notification of incapacity to work.


Microsoft Excel (or comparable products like Google Spreadsheets or Open Office Calc) is the all-round solution par excellence. Everyone knows it, everyone uses it, some can do it. Of course, you can also plan your absences in Excel. All over the internet you can find a lot of templates to turn your endless spreadsheet into the perfect planning.

And there are good reasons for that: Excel is incredibly versatile. You can map practically anything that can be calculated in Excel. In contrast to the analog solution, you can make the file available in the company network and thus also enable remote access. Microsoft's Office 365 Cloud or, if you use Google, Google Drive, go one step further and even let you publish the file to the cloud, so authenticated users without access to the VPN can also access the absence planning.

In addition, Excel allows you to calculate key figures and evaluate your absence planning. If you need to report sick leave or staffing levels to management or want to monitor them on your own initiative, Excel offers you all the options you need.

However, Excel usually reaches its limits in daily use not because it lacks functions, but because it offers too many. The sheer range of formulas, buttons and macros ensures that it simply overwhelms many users. And if only one reference changes, you usually have a whole series of error messages to deal with. And if the "main developer" of the Excel spreadsheet is sick or on vacation or even leaves the company, knowledge is often lost and the Excel spreadsheet can no longer be operated properly.

Absence planning in your ERP

Above a certain size, you will probably rely on an ERP anyway, in order to bundle all company processes in one system. If supply chains, accounting and personnel from several locations have to be managed and optimized simultaneously, you can't do without a good ERP.

Of course, most ERPs also offer modules for personnel management, which in turn include staff scheduling and absence planning. And of course it makes sense to use the solution in a system that is already in place anyway.

However, since this option exists mainly for larger companies, you should not underestimate the prices. As a rule, not only the solution itself costs a lot of money, but also the developer support, since every company is structured differently and therefore usually needs special solutions that the standard version cannot provide despite its complexity.

Keep track of all absences

With Sawayo, employees can quickly and easily request and supervisors can confirm their absences via app or browser. Available anytime, anywhere and easy to understand.

Cloud software for SMEs

The most modern and convenient method currently offered by the market for absence planning are cloud softwares designed specifically for SMEs. By incorporating all the developments of modern technology, they usually combine a management interface as a web application with an app for employees.

The advantages for you as a HR manager are obvious: You have a full overview of absence planning in one place. No one has to be physically present, and no VPN is required. Absence notifications can be made directly through the app - no emails, no phone calls, no manual maintenance. Anyone who needs to be notified is automatically notified. Employees themselves can see how many vacation days are still available via the app at any time. You also no longer need support from system administrators to set up the software. And evaluation options that output the most important key figures for HR managers are also integrated.

The possible disadvantage you have to consider here is the willingness of your female employees to cooperate. Even if this group is getting smaller and smaller, there are people who don't own a smartphone or don't want to use their private one for business purposes. That's their right, of course! However, it is unrealistic to provide all employees with a company smartphone just for planning absences. It's worth checking whether the solution also offers alternative access options such as a web browser application for the computer.

And really well thought-out and programmed solutions then automatically create an overview for the employees at the end of the year in which the absences are broken down. This makes the personal tax return much easier!


Being able to efficiently plan absences, visualize available staffing levels and make strategic decisions is, of course, an advantage for companies of any size.

It becomes more exciting when choosing the method you want to use for absence planning. Each of the above has its advantages and disadvantages. The smaller and more centralized the company, the more pragmatic the solution may be. Complex solutions, on the other hand, often drive up costs and time.

A cloud solution can be the practical middle ground in many industries and types of companies. And last but not least, a modern, digital solution can also save money. Fewer queries, less trouble shooting, more satisfied employees in all areas - both with supervisors and employees. And also with the management and - if present - the works council. A modern solution saves time - and thus the most valuable thing we have.

Keep track of all absences

With Sawayo, employees can quickly and easily request and supervisors can confirm their absences via app or browser. Available anytime, anywhere and easy to understand.


We would like to point out that the contents of our website (including any legal contributions) are for non-binding informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice in the strict sense. The content of this information cannot and is not intended to replace individual and binding legal advice that addresses your specific situation. In this respect, all information provided is without guarantee of accuracy, completeness and timeliness.

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